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Making Your Home Elderly Safe
By Dr. Thomas Comte, CMH Regional Health System

As people age they are more susceptible to financial obstacles, illnesses, and falls. Seniors live with the realization that there may come a day where they can no longer take care of themselves the way that they used to. Many people believe that a nursing home is the only option available but, there are many alternatives to consider before deciding that a nursing home is the only choice.

Surveys indicate that a 65-year-old person has a 43 percent chance of entering a nursing home at some point in life. I should point out that there are many fine nursing home facilities in our area.

But how to maintain one’s independence is the key factor when trying to remain in the current environment and not make the life-changing decision to move into a nursing home.

You have to ask important questions. Have all the possibilities of the senior remaining in his home been evaluated? And can the growing risks be eliminated?
Falls are a leading cause of injury and nursing home placement in the elderly. It is estimated that at least one-third of people ages 65 years and older fall one or more times a year.

The risk factors associated with falls can easily be prevented. Minor modifications with the person and around the home can help promote a secure environment.

  • Install grab bars in bathroom and corridors.
  • Remove throw rugs, cords, and clutter from walkways.
  • Remove unstable furniture and furniture with sharp corners.
  • Install adequate lighting.
  • Purchase shower and toilet chairs for the bathroom.
  • Use ambulation devices, walkers, canes etc..
  • Lift chairs for getting up and down stairs with ease.
  • Wear proper shoes.
  • Keep items within reach.

Along with these adjustments there are a wide range of services available to a person wishing to live more efficiently on their own. The main goal is to keep the person functioning in their own home. For some, home maintenance might be a posing issue. Hiring a caregiver can help with a vast amount of household duties. A caregiver can assist with:

  • Cooking and meal preparation.
  • Paying bills.
  • Grocery shopping.
  • Housekeeping.
  • Yard work.
  • Running errands.
  • Companionship.

Another alternative is to hire a home health aide or nurse. Home health is offered through hospitals, agencies, or privately owned companies. Home health care staff is better trained to handle homeowners with medical issues. The services that are accessible are associated with personal care and activities of daily living.

  • Bathing.
  • Toileting.
  • Grooming.
  • Medications.
  • Exercise and diet.
  • Incontinence issues.
  • Ambulation.
  • Personal care.

There are many other things a person can do and services to utilize which can help in independent living.

  • Keeping doctor’s appointments.
  • Using medications appropriately and wisely.
  • Home oxygen service.
  • Personal alarms and alert systems.
  • Meals on wheels.
  • Assisted living facilities which helps with minor assisted daily living issues.
  • Adult day care.
  • Assess the situation, find out the facts, and take the proper steps to make your home safe and efficient.

Dr. Comte

Dr. Comte is a third year resident physician in the CMH Family Medicine Residency. Healthy Outlook, a periodic offering of CMH, includes information from several resources including the writer’s professional experience.